Weekend Work: Time to spray the bindweed

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The Independent Online

What to do

Although cultivated plants may flag in summer heat, bindweed (hereabouts called withy winder) always flourishes unchecked, an indication of how deep its roots must be. August is a good month to spray this pernicious strangler with a herbicide based on glyphosate (Roundup).

Maximum leafage is what you need if contact herbicides are to do their job well. If you have the patience, or if the bindweed is scrambling over a shrub or fruit bush you do not want to kill, unpick it from the branches and bundle it all into a plastic sack. Spray the leaves inside the sack.

Dahlias are anxious to zoom into flower but should be disbudded until a good strong framework of leaf and stem has been built up.

Greenhouse plants such as begonia, heliotrope, plumbago, can be propagated now from stem cuttings.

Check cordon tomatoes regularly and nip out side shoots growing in the axils between leaf and stem. Tie in the main stem frequently to its supporting cane. Watch out for new stems sprouting from the base of the plant. Sometimes they will grow almost as tall as the proper stem before you notice them.

Cut down rampant self-seeders such as Jacob's ladder and alchemilla, which is starting to look decidedly second-hand. New mounds of leaves will soon cover up holes.

Cut down dead spires of ligularia and campanula. Where there is a late-flowering clematis at hand (the viticellas are ideal) tweak a few strands over the foliage of cut-down herbaceous plants to provide new splashes of colour.

What to see

The hottest of hot events takes place this weekend at West Dean Gardens, where the Chilli Fiesta opens today and continues tomorrow (10.30am-5pm); admission £6.75. The gardeners have grown more than 200 different kinds of chilli, superbly displayed in the garden's Victorian glasshouses. For salsa music, dancing and all that goes with South America, go to West Dean nr Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0QZ. For more information call 01243 818210 or visit westdean.org.uk